The Ouray School Board will attempt to have as traditional an interview process as possible with the three finalists for superintendent.
The finalists will be interviewed in person at 9 a.m, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday at the school. To comply with health orders to keep gatherings under in people, those in attendance will be the one candidate, five board members and four members of the screening committee. Anyone else interested in watching the interviews will be able to do so online.
After an 80-minute executive session regarding the superintendent hiring process on April 30, the board emerged to discuss how to allow the community to have time to meet the final candidates while still complying with health orders forbidding gatherings of more than in people.
The public will be able to submit comments, though details are not yet hashed out. Board President Sandy Kern is working with Ouray County Public Health Director Tanner Kingery to see if a time for the public to meet the candidates on Saturday can be arranged. Updates will be posted on the school website.
The date of the final decision on which candidate will be offered the job will be determined by the board after the interviews.
The finalists are Tod Lokey, principal of Bayfield Middle School; current Ridgway secondary principal Cindy Lystad; and Tennille Wallace, principal on assignment of New Smyrna Beach High Schools in Volusia County, Florida. Whoever is selected will be able to decide whether they want to be the principal of the elementary or secondary school as well as superintendent.
There were a total of 13 applicants for the position. Board members, with the help of a screening committee of stakeholders, cut the list down to six people who were interviewed virtually on April 24 for more than an hour each, according to Kern. The three finalists were chosen after those interview.
During the April 3o virtual meeting board member Kate Kissingford read a statement from the board addressing allegations from the community that the board was showing favoritism to Lokey based on board member Nate Disser "liking" Lokey’s Facebook post.
“Because rumors such as this have the potential to erode the good faith of the public and the integrity of the process, it is important to us that we directly address these concerns,” Kissingford read.
Disser lived on the same Durango street as Lokey several years ago. Disser said he was not aware of Lokey’s application until all board members reviewed the applications and immediately disclosed that he knew him, but had not stayed in contact.
"In no way have we felt manipulated, steered or pushed in a particular direction by Nate regarding this candidate,” Kissingford read.
The statement also reminded the community that board members are happily volunteering their time to serve the school district and asks that the community assume their positive intent.